The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series went to Canada over the weekend and the race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park was all the talk, especially after the crazy, wild finish in the final turns between youngsters Cole Custer and John Hunter Nemechek.
|John Hunter Nemechek|
Nemechek chased down Custer in an “overtime” finish. On the final lap Custer led into the final corner when Nemechek—the son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joe Nemechek—bumped his truck out of the way and the two trucks went door-to-door down a wall in some grass to the finish line.
Nemechek edged Custer for the win, his second of the season, locking his truck into the Truck Series Chase which begins in a few weeks in New Hampshire. Custer, who sits ninth, one spot outside the Chase, needed the win to lock his team into the Chase.
After the race Nemechek parked his truck on the frontstretch and did some celebratory donuts. As he approached the flag stand, looking to celebrate with the checkered flag, Custer ran out onto the track and attempted to tackle Nemechek in a now-viral moment.
Social media sites lit up with reactions.NASCAR drivers weighed in. Fans and media members gave their take on Nemechek’s move and Custer’s reaction. Custer and Nemechek also told reporters their side of the story.
Who was in the right? Who was in the wrong? According to NASCAR the move was legal. NASCAR is, as many executives have said before, “a contact sport.” But will this one move live on for the rest of the season, if not longer?
Remember last season when Matt Kenseth bodied Joey Logano at Martinsville? Remember when Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon tangled on and off the track at Phoenix a few years ago?
|Custer at Kentucky this year|
To me, this ending was a double edged sword. It was fun to watch two young drivers tangle for a win. Could it have been cleaner? I believe so. Could the tackle and post-race fracas have been avoided? Probably so, but as much as we clamor for pure emotion and want to see some passion erupt, when does the entertainment cross the line and give the sport a black eye?
While the tackle didn’t turn into a full-on brawl, the finish was only half the story on Sunday. The beating and banging that some fans clamor for turned into a post-race scuffle that may make highlight tapes for ages. It wasn’t ugly, which was a good thing. Fighting is bad when it crosses the line. But the outpouring of emotions from a frustrated driver and his team was perfectly acceptable on Sunday from Custer and his team.
“I didn’t know he was going to come over there and do that but there’s a lot of tempers that fly,” said Nemechek. “It’s an emotional sport; it’s a competitive sport; that’s just how it goes sometimes.”
How it will go moving forward will be interesting to see. The ending was wild on Sunday. It was crazy. Could it have been better? Potentially. Will it leave a black eye on the sport? Probably not.
I’m willing to bet that the rest of the Camping World Truck Series season will be must-watch TV though, not that it wasn’t going to be before Sunday.